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2 Poems by Marah Heikkila

ash that suffocates

A burning sky; crimson and fluorescent

the heavens cry; weeping; hostile; broken; catatonic

the ash suffocates

the flames burn

the hope flickers.

Voices fade, whimpers and pleas

engulfed by the roaring of flames

the destruction of searing heat.

A once burning sky transitions into darkness

thick with decay, soot, and ash.

Cries lost as wails of misfortune and sorrow rule.

A glimmer flickers - opaque and nearly missed.

A glimmer of hope as a stranger clutches the palm of a child’s hand;

saved beneath the rubble of oppression and suffocation.

Letter from Tiananmen Square

I met you in Beijing

I remember back in Tiananmen Square when it was getting warm,

When the chill of the night shed its cloak for

Mugginess and heat;

My Mandarin poor and your four

years of French

were clumsy.

Words fumbled over one another,

my accentuation of syllables too


Looking back, twenty years later,

an invitation to your wedding --

has me recall the times you drove me

through the city, the walks on campus,

the visits to my job. A routine that swiftly was shredded away.

You lead me through the chaos at Tiananmen Square --

you kept me away from it - from the

protests and what I regret

was my fear.

It pushed me away, brought me back to Finland -

It distanced us, gave us new lives; new background; new languages

new experiences that made us foreign;

to each other’s touch.

Years later, unspoken words but loud memories

brought me to what I had hoped I wouldn't see

but what came next was a clipped obituary

from Beijing - my Mandarin still weak,

but enough to shed broken, crumbled, tears after reading.

You won't ever see this and I

never would want you to.

I'll think back to Tiananmen Square;

let my memory of you; the

walks to get dumplings and sitting

on the benches, waves of laughter,

and fingers clasping together

will never leave me.


Marah has been published in various of literary magazines: The Garfield Lake Review, Havik, Toe Good, and Qua. When they aren't reading, writing, or working with students, they love to travel, explore museums, and spend quality time with their family and nephew. You can follow on Instagram @marahheikkila

EDITOR'S SONG PAIRING: JordanRiddle — Suffocate


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